Uber to Invest $500 Million in World Mapping Project to Free Itself from Google

Uber self-driving car 1 photo
Photo: Uber
The world's most famous ride-hailing company may have begun its life as a start-up, but right now it's one of the most valuable enterprises in Silicon Valley with an estimated worth of $62.5 billion. And it's not like it lacks competition over there.
However, as impressive as its ascension may be, its business still relies heavily on the products of other companies, with Google playing an important part. The Uber app is powered by Google Maps, and the tech giant has reportedly announced it will be raising the fees it charges for its use, a move that would place companies such as Uber in a delicate position.

A company with the financial power of Uber understandably doesn't like being at the hand of other businesses, so it is taking rapid measures in an attempt to eliminate the middleman. Last week, Uber made it public that Brian McClendon, the former head of Google Maps who switched over to Uber last year would direct its global mapping project. This came less than a month after news of a partnership between DigitalGlobe, one of the leading providers of high-resolution Earth imagery, data, and analytics, and Uber.

Now, Financial Times reports that Uber has set a clear investment figure for its mapping efforts, and it stands at half a billion dollars. An unquoted source "familiar with Uber's plans" told the publication that the San Francisco company is doubling its efforts in this direction, with mapping vehicles already out on the streets of the US and Mexico. Other countries are expected to follow soon.

After a relatively low-cost start where Uber didn't have to invest in hardware or new technology, the company has now chosen to take matters into its hands and ensure that its future does not depend on third parties.

Uber is alredy working on developing its own autonomous driving technology that will presumably allow it to operate driverless fleets at one point, and is now accelerating its efforts in mapping the roads network around the world joining the likes of Google or HERE (owned by Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz).
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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